Ohio joins the list of American states that move to legalize hemp and cannabidiol oil (CBD) products through a bill passed by the Ohio General Assembly. The voting turned 88-3 to positively favor CBD and hemp validation and use.
These products have been previously classified under drugs category Schedule 1, which denotes that they are as dangerous as marijuana, a cannabis product that has more THC levels than hemp or CBD. The newly elected bill is set to differentiate hemp and CBD from the dependency-inducing marijuana through lower THC composition.
How the Farm Bill Affected Ohio’s Decision
The Ohio State’s CBD and hemp legalization bill is an answer to the Federal mandate passed last year, which is the Farm Bill, signed into law last December 20, 2018.
The nation’s legislative branch moved to exclude hemp from the Schedule 1 category and instead treats it as any of the land’s agricultural crop. Ohio responds by permitting the cultivation of industrial hemp granted that it follows the >0.3% allowable THC levels. The cultivators must also be licensed and that the government should always be able to track hemp grower’s areas.
Industrial hemp, although sourced from the same plant species (Cannabis sativa) as marijuana, is made from distinguished cultivars or varieties.
Since then, many of the country’s states have passed their updated regulations on cannabis products, leaving Ohio to be one of the few places that were yet to honor the said law.
Ohio’s newly passed bill was drafted to comply and execute the law, which is a positive resolution to the call from business sectors and Ohio farmers of clarifying state regulations regarding cannabis.
Uncertainty as bill undergoes a protocol
Before it can take effect as a new law in the state of Ohio, the bill must secure Governor Mike DeWine’s signature first. It is also eyed by critics, falling under scrutiny as to its implementation and legality.
For Ohio co-founder of the Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, Tim Johnson, small enterprises and local farmers can see a prosperous future should the bill be made into law. It is backed by local business as well, enhancing the possibility of CBD and hemp legalization in the state.
However, it’s also a topic of growing debate of whether federal regulations justify the passing of this bill. Kyle Koehler, House Agriculture Committee chairman notes answers by saying that the state should move quickly regarding the matter to catch up with neighboring states as well.
More about the bill
A House bill typically follows the 90-day effectivity after the legislation’s session ends, but the said bill is categorized under Immediate Effect. This is to cope with Ohio’s delayed response to the Federal law.
The state is looking forward to setting up various programs as soon as the law takes effect so that licensed cultivators can avail of higher yields and more profit while being closely monitored by the government.
CBD, a cannabis product with potential health benefits, will also be legal in terms of processing, production, sale, and circulation within the state.
CBD Sellers Say New CBD Law Protects Consumers
Cannabidiol (CBD) sellers from Long Island believe that the new state law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will defend consumers from dangerous products by aiding them in making informed choices and purchases.
Users laud CBD for being a therapeutic reliever for anxiety or pain without the psychoactive effect that its cousin marijuana causes.
The legislation passed last December require hemp businesses to test their products and label them appropriately. It also created a state-permitting process for hemp growers, processors, retailers and companies that are planning to sell hemp extracts and other hemp-related products like CBD.
CBD oil and cream are found by users to help in promoting sleep, aside from its alleged pain-relieving properties. However, there is little scientific research to back the claims made by consumers.
The new CBD state law
The newly signed measure allows the Department of Agriculture and Markets management over hemp cultivation, while the Department of Health has direct supervision over hemp extracts. The law will take effect on March 9, after 90 days following the signing of the bill last December 9.
The new legislation does not affect licensed hemp growers immediately. It also does not alter the state policy that prohibits the infusion of cannabidiol to food and beverages, according to a Department of Agriculture spokesperson.
Shop owner Jessica Naissant who sells locally manufactured CBD products like oils, soaps, lotions, and candles fully supports the new law. She believes that CBD is only a micro-dose of cannabis, which means that it does not cause a high that is a widely known effect of marijuana. She further stated that consumers need to know that the CBD products they buy are safe and from credible sources.
Naissant has the company’s products like topicals and oils independently verified by a third-party laboratory. Her shop only stocks CBD products that come with a certificate of analysis, which shows how much CBD is incorporated into the product.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given caution to buyers in September about CBD products that were falsely labeled and contained more or less of what the product claims to have. It was after the agency found out through tests conducted on several products sold in the market today.
Concerns from the market players
Despite the law, some market players worry that the cost of securing permits and tests will block small businesses from successfully entering the industry.
Cuomo’s office stated that the cost of securing state permits is not yet decided. In a statement made by the governor, the state is planning to hold a hemp summit to discuss priorities and policies regarding the CBD industry, which will likely happen in January.
CBD manufacturing company owner and CEO Craig Zaffe said that the law would benefit both sellers and consumers. Zaffe is also the owner of an online CBD retailer, CBDoilsofLongIsland.com. He stated that there are numerous cannabidiol products in the market, but many of them are falsely labeled. Some have misrepresented CBD levels.
Zaffe remarked that credible companies that take the time and effort to produce legitimate products that don’t cut corners are on the losing end of the current market condition. Consumers are also in danger of buying harmful CBD products because of no standard vets for product quality.
ACD Health and Wellness, Zaffe’s company, enlists Colorado-based Botanacor CBD testing laboratory for its products and commissions Oregon farms as its hemp source. Its customers can access lab reports upon request.
Zaffe believes that succeeding in the industry means caring for the people and being ahead of regulations.
Former NBA Player Pushes for Lawful CBD Use in the League
Al Harrington, a former NBA player, attended the Las Vegas MJBizCon, the biggest convention for US cannabis trade, expressed his firm belief that cannabis is a healthy medical option for professional athletes.
Advocates like Harrington have been pushing for leagues to allow cannabis use. As a response, Major League Baseball has recently announced that it will stop testing in the minor leagues for marijuana use.
Harrington’s CBD advocacy
Harrington is the founder of Viola, a cannabis company championing for the use of cannabis to alleviate pain, among other alleged therapeutic benefits. He stated that a player’s day-to-day pain management problems could be answered by cannabis.
He also added that the use of natural options is nowhere near dangerous compared to prescribed pain relievers and opioids after surgery, which are addictive.
Recreational marijuana is now lawful in 11 states, including D.C., and medical marijuana is allowed in 33 states. Harrington, a pro-marijuana advocate, trusts the less psychoactive cannabidiol or CBD will be easier to accept by the NBA.
Harrington along with co-founders Sanford Kunkel, ex-physician of the Indiana Pacers and Joe Abunassar, NBA trainer, established Harrington Wellness. The brand features hemp-derived CBD that has less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound responsible for the high in marijuana.
Harrington believes that 90% of NBA players support cannabis and would be the backing they need to reach their goals. He relayed how cannabis helped him walk pain-free after undergoing 13 surgeries during his 16-year career. After retiring in 2014, he considered coaching but ultimately felt that founding a cannabis company was his calling.
An open secret
Michele Roberts, National Basketball Players Association executive director, sees a policy change in the league following the upcoming presidential elections. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has also relayed the willingness of the league to reevaluate the ban after reviewing medical marijuana. The NBPA Anti-Drug Program currently bans CBD and other marijuana-related products.
Antonio Harvey, a former NBA player, reaffirms that players don’t use cannabis because of its addicting property. He said athletes typically use it to cope with pain from playing the sport. Harvey now has his cannabis company, Terra Mater Cannabis.
Harrington was introduced to CBD back in 2012 and later used THC, for which he was open about smoking weed up to his final career year. He even had a cannabis greenhouse in Denver.
Isaiah Thomas, a Wizards guard, stated that players using cannabis isn’t a secret even if he does not use it himself. He said that other players talk about using it all the time. Even GSW Coach Steve Kerr also claimed to have smoked marijuana two times for extreme back pain.
Harvey has already secured 17 endorsement commitments from other retired athletes for his edible THC-dosed product, Legend.
Harrington has been in talks with NBPA regarding a possible team-up with his cannabidiol brand. Roberts is aware of the trend and sees the league be more amenable to CBD, which does not violate federal laws.
Roberts stated that the league and NBPA are on the same page regarding the amendment of current rules on cannabis. There is no aversion, Roberts adds, but the need to eliminate the possibility of jeopardizing the players.
Then secretary-general Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy discouraging prosecutors from interfering in states where marijuana was legal. The impending threat from the Justice Department has shelved the talks in the league regarding the removal of the cannabis ban. Roberts pointed out that the decision to stop testing for marijuana might progress, but it will not be anytime soon.
Medical professionals acknowledge CBD as a pain management option other than opioids. The most recent fatal opioid overdose incident happened earlier this year when Tyler Skaggs, 27-year-old Los Angeles pitcher, died from oxycodone and fentanyl. CBD, on the other hand, is not addictive.
Peter Grinspoon, Harvard Medical School faculty associate and Doctor for Cannabis Regulation board member, stated how CBD should be allowed for athletes since it is a safe alternative than the “junk” the players typically use.
However, CBD is yet to be officially recognized by the FDA as a treatment for many health conditions.
Harrington still believes that the partnerships he builds with outspoken players from the four major leagues can change the sport and lives of the athletes.
2020 to Bring Changes for Ohio CBD Users After First Run in 2018
Key players involved in Ohio’s Hemp Program like state regulators, farmers and patients expect an eventful 2020.
CBD users who are registered under the state’s highly-regulated Hemp Program and use medical marijuana to cure pain and other medical conditions are in for some significant changes in the market. Competition might become stiffer as new entrees join the cannabidiol craze, adding to the products in store shelves that started to flourish since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed.
Hemp program in Ohio
The 2018 Farm Bill was passed by the federal government in December 2018 and indicated states to establish their respective hemp programs to ensure compliance, as confirmed to Jen Lynch, Ohio Hemp Association President.
According to Lynch, the association coordinated with Ohio lawmakers to create a program that would enable CBD businesses to survive and thrive in the expanding market.
Senate Bill 57, drafted earlier this year, was signed by Governor DeWine last July, successfully passing it as state law.
The bill worked to create a system that allows the Ohio Department of Agriculture to hand out licenses and monitor growers of hemp. It also gives control over businesses that work to extract cannabidiol from raw plants and how such products are to be sold to patients.
CBD products cultivated and made in the state are legal to carry across state lines, as opposed to the products created under the Medical Marijuana Control Program of Ohio.
Executive director David Miran of the Ohio Hemp Program stated that new markets would open up to cultivators and processors from the state. These markets can be found outside Ohio.
Changes in the market
The hemp program was most successful in 2019, and it looks to grow more in 2020 as the licensing process for hemp cultivators will start early next year.
Before the legalization of hemp through the Senate Bill 57, however, News 5 has revealed that some stores unlawfully sold CBD products in Ohio. Some CBD oil brands were displayed on store shelves last May even when the Board of Pharmacy indicated that these products are only to be distributed through state-run dispensaries.
Terri Gerhardt, Ohio DA Food Safety chief, said that while the program was established, it lacked funding. He further stated that the department wasn’t able to move accordingly because it had no money.
It was only recently that DA secured funding for CBD testing, which is bound to be initiated early in 2020.
Additionally, farmers will commence planting hemp on their farm lots starting in 2020. Some farmers told News 5 that there might be some changes, including equipment, to ensure that they are ready to handle hemp crops. However, trade negotiations that threaten revenue from soybeans and corn could be a convenient time for farmers to grow hemp instead.
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